Rosenqvist Stars On His IndyCar Debut—And Did It One-Handed!
Rising star Felix Rosenqvist certainly was well-prepared for his IndyCar debut at St Petersburg, Florida last weekend. He routinely bagged titles in the junior formulae, including taking the FIA Euro Formula 3 championship and two consecutive Macau Grand Prix victories. He was a consistent frontrunner in the previous two Formula E seasons. His formative years have also been eclectic, including a race win in the Blancpain GT Series, podiums in Super Formula and Super GT and experience of the Daytona and Le Mans 24 Hour races as well as of DTM. He’s even won races in Indy Lights—IndyCar’s feeder series.
It all helped him to a plumb Chip Ganassi IndyCar drive for this season. And on his freshman race weekend in many ways he was star of the show. Already in pre-season testing Rosenqvist ran near or at the pace of his five-time champion team-mate Scott Dixon, a vein he continued in round one. He qualified third ahead of Dixon, behind only the Penske pair Will Power and Josef Newgarden, and he even had the modesty to describe the qualifying result as “a gift” as he only proceeded to the final part of the session due to a rival’s penalty. Come the race he got up to second place immediately then seized the lead with an aggressive out-braking pass of Power at turn 1 at a restart. Rosenqvist led for 31 laps, often looking imperious. He fell to fourth by the end—eventual victor Newgarden and runner-up Dixon got ahead via pit strategy while Power also jumped him in a near miss pass as Rosenqvist exited the pits following a slow departure from a stop.
Even so Rosenqvist’s performance attracted plenty of admirers, and we discovered later that his drive was even more impressive than it appeared. He had to drive the second half of the race one-handed due to a trapped nerve. “This was the toughest race I’ve ever done,” Rosenqvist said. “I’m knackered. Driving like this for over two hours between the walls, with every second counting and with no power steering is a real physical and mental challenge. To add to that, I trapped a nerve in my right arm and had to drive the last 40 laps basically with just one arm. I’m glad I’ve stepped up my training this winter and I’m proud to have achieved what I did today. We’ve got a great platform to build on for the rest of the season.”
Plenty of Rosenqvist’s rivals were full of praise for his drive, and this included his stable-mate Dixon. “The guy has got a ton of experience in so many different cars,” Dixon noted, “so it’s been really refreshing to not be in the same ecosystem and thinking of the same things. He’s kind of thinking outside the box. He’s a strong guy, very committed and obviously very talented and he’s going to be a hell of a fight for the whole year, and it’s nice to be working with somebody really close on the speed side.”
Images courtesy of Honda